Phil Hodges calls it Edging God Out (EGO)— leadership characterized by pride or fear. When we bump God from the center of our lives, we take charge of our own security and self-worth. And it rarely goes well.


Pride and fear form two downward slopes on opposite sides of a ridge.

Down the pride side, we develop an exaggerated sense of ourselves. We grow arrogant, condescending, and boastful. We talk a lot, take as much credit as possible, and require attention from others. We like to be seen and hate to be questioned. We expect affirmation, and feel deeply competitive. We speak endlessly of metrics, success, track-records, and achievements. We live in a sea of statistics and comparisons.

And we feel increasingly isolated.

Down the fear side, we push harder and harder so we’ll not fail. We carry a deep-seated negativity. We criticize. We challenge. We build (perhaps unintentionally) a culture of suspicion. We hide behind our titles and positions, intimidate others, and discourage honest feedback (perhaps even while we ask for it). Our words say one thing; our tone and body language says something quite different. We’re always circling the wagons, and we hear most feedback through a distorted lens.

We lose sleep at night, put on weight, and suffer.

It takes no guru to see the crisis in leadership all around us, as pride or fear (or alternatingly both) seize us.

However, Hodges uses the same acronym (EGO) to describe the solution: Exalting God Only. In this model, we “altar” our leadership and lead out of security rather than for security.

Pride turns to humility; fear turns to faith-filled confidence.

We don’t need leadership but we are willing to serve as leaders. The opinion of those around us never trumps the opinion of Christ who calls us. It’s no longer about us, our resume, our success, or our achievements. Instead, we lead by faith, assured of God’s guidance and surrendered to His purposes and plan.

Until we resolve the ego issues in leadership, we’ll probably hurt more than help those around us.

Which model of “ego” best defines you right now?

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7 Responses to EGO

  1. Tim Ross says:

    This is just what I learned in the Servant Leadership class two quarters ago. Excellent class and excellent post. A quote from one of your lectures in that class: “Security comes not in who I am but in Whose I am” I am a child of God, whom He loves. He is well pleased with me. Thank you for helping to base my security in the God who loves me and sent His Son for me.

  2. Michael Preston says:

    Thanks David – This is definitely food to digest and work out in our walk – I will share this with our men’s accountability group – discipleship doesn’t just happen – thank you for playing a significant part in that process. ybiC, Mike

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Tappan, Dustin says:

    Thanks Dr Timms, good thought for our team to ponder today.
    I especially like the ego clipart from the 90’s,
    Hope you and your family are doing well.

    Dustin Tappan
    Lead Children’s & Youth Pastor

    Christ’s Church of the Valley
    7007 W Happy Valley Rd , Peoria , AZ 85383-3223

  4. Phil McKinley says:

    We should all leggo our ego. Too easy, I couldn’t resist.

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